Monday, October 27, 2014

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins

These muffins are to DIE for! No joke! They can be a little time consuming but totally worth it! Keep in mind the cream cheese filling needs to sit in freezer for at least 2 hours before making muffins. These are delicious fresh out of the oven, HOT or even better the next day cooled down! Make sure you have some one to gift these puppies to or they'll all end up in your tummy!

from the blog The Girl Who Ate Everything
    For the filling:
  • 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • For the muffins:
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups pumpkin puree (see Note)
  • 1¼ cups vegetable oil
  • For the topping:
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 5 tablespoons flour
  • 1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces

To prepare the filling, combine the cream cheese and powdered sugar in a medium bowl and mix well until blended and smooth. Transfer the mixture to a piece of plastic wrap and shape into a log about 1½-inches in diameter. Smooth the plastic wrap tightly around the log, and reinforce with a piece of foil. Transfer to the freezer and chill until at least slightly firm, at least 2 hours. The mixture will still be somewhat soft but firmer.
  1. To make the muffins, preheat the oven to 350? F. Line muffin pans with paper liners. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, pumpkin pie spice, salt and baking soda; whisk to blend. In the bowl of an electric mixer combine the eggs, sugar, pumpkin puree and oil. Mix on medium-low speed until blended. With the mixer on low speed, add in the dry ingredients, mixing just until incorporated.
  2. To make the topping, combine the sugar, flour and cinnamon in a small bowl; whisk to blend. Add in the butter pieces and cut into the dry ingredients with a pastry blender or two forks until the mixture is coarse and crumbly. I always get inpatient here and mix it together with my hands so that it looks like the texture of wet sand. I know you aren't supposed to do it this way but I'm impatient. Transfer to the refrigerator to chill until ready to use.
  3. To assemble the muffins, fill each muffin well with a small amount of batter, just enough to cover the bottom of the liner (1-2 tablespoons). Slice the log of cream cheese filling into 24 equal pieces. Place a slice of the cream cheese mixture into each muffin well. You want to put the cream cheese lower than you think because it will rise a lot during the baking process. Divide the remaining batter among the muffin cups, placing on top of the cream cheese to cover completely. Sprinkle a small amount of the topping mixture over each of the muffin wells.
  4. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely before serving. I like them warm, cold, and room temperature.
Note: A standard sized can of pumpkin is 15 ounces, just shy of 2 cups (16 ounces). You could open another can if you want and freeze the extra or just use one can which is what I did. The amount is so little I don't think it makes a difference in the final product.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Perfect White Bread

This bread is absolutely amazing.  Perfect taste and texture.  I also made some into cinnamon bread and it was so delicious.  AND, its soooo easy to make.  You must try it.

Perfect White Bread

2/3 c. sugar
2 c. very warm water
5 tsp. active dry yeast
5 c. bread flour
1 c. whole wheat flour
2 tsp. salt
1/2 c. oil
In a stand mixer bowl, add sugar and water. Sprinkle the yeast on top and let rest until it gets foamy, about 3-5 minutes. Add both kinds of flour, then salt and oil. Turn on mixer and knead for 6 minutes. Turn dough into a well greased bowl. Spray the top of the dough with cooking spray and proof until double in size, about 30-45 minutes.
Punch down risen dough and divide into 2 pieces. Flatten each piece into a rectangle about 12 x 8 inches. Fold the sides in about 4 inches or so.  Roll up keeping the top nice and rounded and place in a greased loaf pan with the dough seam side down. Let rise until the dough is 1 inch above the rim of the loaf pan.
Bake in a 350 F oven for 30 minutes. Turn loaf out of the pan and let cool on a baking rack. Brush tops with butter while the bread is hot, if desired. Bag after the bread is cool to keep the bread moist. Freezes well.
*Cinnamon Bread Option:
When you roll it out as stated above, spray with water bottle and then generously sprinkle a mixture of 1 cup granulated sugar and 1/2 Tbs. of cinnamon to within 1/2 inch of edges.  Roll bread into a loaf, pinching the end and sides together to seal the cinnamon in.  You must remove this bread from the pans 5 minutes after cooking and cool completely before slicing.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Slow Cooker Teriyaki Chicken

Photo courtesy of
I love my crock pot.  Especially in the winter time.  I also love teriyaki chicken so when I saw this recipe I was enticed.  It was really, really good!  You do have to do one extra step in the end (thicken the sauce) before you can eat but overall very easy and very yummy!

Slow Cooker Teriyaki Chicken
Recipe from


2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup chopped white onion
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup soy sauce (use low-sodium if desired)
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh ginger
1/8 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup cold water
3 Tbsp. cornstarch
(optional toppings: sliced scallions and toasted sesame seeds)


Add the chicken breasts to the bottom of your slow cooker in a single layer.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the garlic, onion, honey, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, ginger, and black pepper until combined. Pour the mixture on top of the chicken breasts. Cover slow cooker, and cook on high for 4-5 hours, or until the chicken is cooked through and shreds easily with a fork. Remove the chicken with a slotted spoon to a separate bowl and shred it using two forks. Transfer the remaining teriyaki sauce from the slow cooker to a medium saucepan.
Meanwhile in a separate bowl, whisk together the cold water and cornstarch until the cornstarch is dissolved and no longer lumpy. Pour the cornstarch slurry into the teriyaki sauce mixture, and whisk to combine. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, and let it boil for about 1-2 minutes or until thickened. Remove from heat, and pour the sauce on top of the shredded chicken. Toss to combine.
Serve topped with scallions (green onions) and toasted sesame seeds if desired.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Black Bean and Butternut Enchilada Skillet

This meal is delicious and so filling (and don't forget healthy!). It can be made vegan by omitting the chicken and cheese, which is how I made it, and I didn't even miss it (though I meant to add cheese later, but forgot). I have to admit that only half of my kids ate it. The ones that did seemed to enjoy it, and the other half were turned off by the mere mention of butternut squash! But it's extremely flavorful, so if you like these flavors, you will love this dish.

Black Bean and Butternut Enchilada Skillet
adapted from  Mels Kitchen Cafe

  • 1 tablespoon oil (olive, coconut, canola, etc.)
  • 1/2 cup chopped red or yellow onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely minced
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and diced (optional)
  • 4 cups diced butternut squash (from a small to medium butternut squash that has been peeled and seeded) 
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 8 yellow or white corn tortillas, cut into large squares (I cut each tortilla in thirds and then chopped the strips in half)
  • 2 cups green enchilada sauce 
  • 2-3 cups cooked, cubed chicken
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 6 ounces (1 1/2 cups) shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  1. In a large, 12-inch nonstick skillet, heat the oil over medium heat and add the onion, garlic and jalapeno, if using. Cook for 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions soften. Stir in the butternut squash, salt, pepper, cumin and chili powder. 
  2. Cook for about 10-12 minutes, stirring every few minutes, until the squash is tender. If you want a smoother consistency to the squash, continue cooking until it breaks down to a creamy consistency, otherwise you can cook it just until it becomes tender.
  3. Stir in the beans, tortillas and enchilada sauce. Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook for a couple of minutes so the tortillas can soak up some of the sauce and start to cook down just a little bit.
  4. Add the chicken, cilantro and 1 cup of the cheese. Stir to combine and heat through. Add additional salt and pepper to taste, if needed. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top and let the mixture sit for 1-2 minutes over medium-low or medium heat until the cheese melts.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Sweet Paprika Skillet Chicken

Sweet Paprika Chicken
Photo from Mel's Kitchen Cafe

I made this for dinner tonight and was blown away by it's deliciousness. Seriously. Christian said it was one of the best meals he's had in a long time. It's super easy and fast, but it's also really impressive. I served mine with the Cilantro Lime rice and it took it to a whole new level of yumminess.

Sweet Paprika Skillet Chicken

I almost always cut the boneless, skinless chicken breasts lengthwise into two thinner chicken cutlets (slicing it like you would a hot dog bun but all the way through). This means that often I can get away with using 2-3 thicker chicken breasts and still feeding our family of 7. If you don't choose to do that or the chicken isn't thick enough to cut that way, you may want to pound slightly to flatten to a more even thickness.
  • 2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons paprika
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts pounded to flatten slightly or cut in half to form two thinner chicken cutlets
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil (or canola or vegetable oil)
  • Cilantro Lime Rice, fresh mango slices, lime wedges for serving (optional)
  1. In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar, paprika, salt, pepper and garlic powder. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels and pat the spice mixture onto the chicken breasts, rubbing it into the chicken to create an even coating.
  2. In a large, 12-inch nonstick skillet, heat the coconut oil (or other oil) over medium heat until hot and rippling. Add the chicken in a single layer (you may need to do separate batches) and cook for 4-5 minutes on each side depending on how thick the chicken pieces are (the chicken will register 160 degrees on an instant read thermometer when cooked fully). The chicken will darken quite a bit due to the brown sugar in the spice rub. Adjust the heat if you feel the chicken is burning or overcooking - it will be dry if it overcooks so cook it just until cooked through so it stays juicy and tender.
  3. Remove the chicken to a plate and repeat with the remaining chicken pieces, if needed.
  4. Let the chicken rest 5 or so minutes before serving. Serve with cilantro lime rice, fresh mangoes and lime wedges for the ultimate dining experience.

Cilantro Lime Rice
from Mel's Kitchen cafe

  • 1 tablespoons butter
  • 1 1/4 cups rice (long grain white rice works best)
  • 2 1/4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • juice and zest of 1 large lime
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
  1. In a skillet or medium saucepan, melt the butter and add the rice. stir, letting the rice and butter cook for 1-2 minutes. Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and cook for 15-16 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand, covered, for 10 minutes. Fluff with fork and serve.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Light Broccoli and Cheese soup

 picture and recipe from (through

 Its me again! Trying to cook healthier so I can have my cookie at the end of the day! :) Jason and I really enjoyed this soup. It had a great nutty texture and a very healthy flavor. I will go ahead and warn: my kids did not like it much at all. That's because it actually tastes like broccoli with a hint of carrot! If your kids love vegetables, then they will love this. My kids don't like anything. Not exaggerating. Jason and I both agreed it was a little more of an adult soup.But it whipped up in less than 30 minutes and was great reheated!

Light Broccoli and Cheese Soup
3 c chicken stock
2 c broccoli
1 c diced onion (I used about 1/3)
1/2 c chopped carrot
3/8 t salt
1/4 t pepper
2 garlic cloves
3/4 c half n half (I used fat free evap. milk)
4 oz sharp cheese

Combine first seven ingredients and bring to a boil. Simmer 10". Blend. Stir in half n half and cheese until incorporated. Garnish with parsley, saltines and a little more cheese. The soup was beautiful and did not look at all like this picture. It was very nutty in texture and you could see the pretty green and orange flecks from the veggies.

Broccoli & Chicken with Bacon Quinoa Bake

 picture and recipe from

I've been trying my best to experiment with healthier recipes and expand my palate. I tried this last night with a fresh home-made french loaf. It was delicious. I've tried many quinoa recipes lately and this is the only one that I feel is good enough to share. I was determined not to go to the store so I made several changes to the original recipe (from to work with things I had in my pantry.

Broccoli & Chicken with Bacon Quinoa Bake
2 c chicken broth 
1 c milk divided (I used fat free) 
1 t poultry seasoning (I used Mrs.Dash)
1/2 c flour
1 c uncooked quinoa
1/4 c bacon bits or fresh bacon
1 lb raw chicken breast  sliced
8 oz broccoli
cheddar cheese (the recipe calls for gruyere...way too fancy for us! But I bet it would be yummy!)
salt and pepper

Bring chicken broth and 1/2 c milk to a boil. In a separate bowl, whisk remaining 1/2 c milk and poultry seasoning and 1/2 c flour and form a thick bechamel type sauce. Pour boiled broth mixture and bechamel into a greased 9x13 pan. Add 1 c. uncooked quinoa and bacon. Lay uncooked chicken breast throughout and season with salt and pepper generously. Bake at 400 degrees for 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes or as needed. LIGHTLY steam broccoli. Place alongside chicken and quinoa and then spread cheese over. Bake for an additional ten minutes.